CHAPTER 30 America Moves to the Right 1969–1989 Nixon and the Rise of Postwar Conservatism • Emergence of a Grassroots Movement – Lyndon Johnson’s landslide victory over Barry Goldwater in 1964 appeared to signify liberalism triumphant - concealed a rising conservative movement. – Grassroots movement, vigorous in South and West - middle-class suburbanites, anti-Communist John Birch Society, college students in Young Americans for Freedom supported Goldwater. – Grassroots conservatism visible in the Sun Belt. – Orange County, CA; Dallas, TX; Scottsdale, AZ; and Jefferson Parish, LA predominantly white, relatively homogeneous, skilled and economically comfortable - cities with military bases and defense production facilities. – West - long tradition of Protestant morality, individualism, and opposition to federal interference. – South shared West’s antipathy toward federal government - but hostility to racial change more central to new conservatism. – Conservatives believed this marked the ―moral decline‖ of the nation. – Protests against taxes grew alongside concerns about morality. • Nixon Courts the Right – Nixon’s ―southern strategy‖ exploited antipathy to black protest and civil rights policies, inroads into Democratic strongholds. – Enforced court orders of integration in southern schools, but stymied efforts to deal with segregation outside the South. – Busing, a ―political dynamite.‖ – Busing for racial integration provoked outrage. – Failed to persuade Congress to end court-ordered busing. – Appointed four new justices - Milliken v. Bradley (1974), Court imposed strict limits on busing to achieve racial balance. – Earl Warren resigned in 1969, replaced with Warren E. Burger - a strict constitutionalist - upheld liberal programs of the 1960s, limited affirmative action in Regents of University of California v. Bakke - liberalized abortion laws in Roe v. Wade. – Unions and civil rights groups resisted Nixon’s next two conservative nominees – had to settle for moderate candidates. – Southern strategy and backlash against civil rights revolution of the 1960s ended the Democrat’s hold on the ―solid South.‖ – Capitalized on racial issues and aligned himself with those fearful about women’s changing roles and new demands. Constitutional Crisis and Restoration • The Election of 1972 – Nixon’s ability to appeal to concerns about Vietnam, race, law and order, and traditional morality – heightened victory. – Senator George S. McGovern of South Dakota - Democratic presidential candidate. – After bitter 1968 convention, Democrats required delegations to represent relative proportions of minorities, women, and youth in their states. – McGovern struggled against Nixon - Republicans portrayed him as a left extremist - his positions alienated conservative Democrats. – Nixon gained 60.7 percent of popular vote - every state except Massachusetts - landslide victory second only to Lyndon Johnson’s in 1964. • Watergate – June 17, 1972, five men from Nixon’s reelection campaign broke into Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate complex to repair a bugging device - discovered and arrested on the scene. – To conceal connection between arrested and Nixon administration officials - president and aides set in motion the most serious constitutional crisis since the Civil War, dubbed ―Watergate.‖ – Over next two years, Americans learned - Nixon and associates engaged in abuses - accepting illegal campaign contributions, using dirty tricks to sabotage Democratic candidates, and unlawfully attempting to silence critics of Vietnam War. – Nixon secretly plotted to conceal links between burglars and White House - publicly denied knowledge of break-in - investigations by grand jury and Senate exposed White House aides involvement. – April 1973, Nixon accepted official responsibility for Watergate - denied personal knowledge of the break-in or of a cover-up. – Senate investigating committee revealed that White House counsel John Dean described projects to harass ―enemies‖ through tax audits and other illegal means - efforts to cover up Watergate burglary. – White House aide disclosed all conversations in the Oval Office taped. – Senate’s Sam Ervin and independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox demanded release of the tapes, but Nixon refused. – More disclosures revealed Nixon’s misuse of federal funds and tax evasion. – October 19, Nixon ordered Cox to cease efforts to obtain Oval Office tapes; Cox refused, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire Cox. – Richardson resigned and the next man in line at the Justice Department. – Robert Bork, solicitor general carried out Nixon’s orders – press dubbed it ―the Saturday Night Massacre.‖ – February 1974, House of Representatives began vote of impeachment - April 1974 Nixon began to release edited transcripts of tapes. – July 1974, House Judiciary Committee began debate over charges for impeachment: obstruction of justice, abuse of power, contempt of Congress, unconstitutional waging of war by the secret bombing of Cambodia, and tax evasion and the selling of political favors. – Unanimous Supreme Court ordered Nixon to hand over remaining tapes, and on August 8, 1974, during a televised broadcast, Nixon announced his resignation. • The Ford Presidency and the 1976 Election – Gerald Ford, conservative member of the House since 1948. – Ford, ―Our long nightmare is over,‖ but shocked Americans by granting Nixon full pardon. – Democrats made gains in November congressional elections. – Watergate investigations prompted passage of Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974, established nonpartisan procedure for appointment of special prosecutors. – Illegal FBI and CIA activities stretching back to 1950s - harassment of political dissenters and plots to assassinate Fidel Castro and other foreign leaders. – Ford carried burdens into 1976 presidential race; weak economy and serious threat mounted from Republican right. – Democrats nominated former Georgia governor Jimmy Carter. Election of 1976 – Mondale of Minnesota running mate but clear rightward turn in party. – Carter, carried his own bags, lived modestly, and taught Bible class at his Baptist church, had considerable appeal. The “Outsider” Presidency of Jimmy Carter • Retreat from Liberalism – Carter vowed ―to help the poor and aged, improve education, and provide jobs‖ but ―not waste money.‖ – His aims conflicted - inflation threatening economic stability, Carter’s commitment to reform took second place. – Outsider status helped win presidency but no strong ties to party insiders and hampered his ability to lead. – Even a president without these liabilities might not have done much better than Carter, as Congress itself diminished the ability of party leaders to deliver a united front. – Carter did not do much better with the formidable problems that plagued the Nixon and Ford administrations— unemployment, inflation, and slow economic growth. – Increased Social Security employer and employee contributions, increasing the tax burden of lower- and middle- income Americans. – Corporations and wealthy individuals gained from new legislation, including a cut in the capital gains tax, loans to ensure the survival of the Chrysler Corporation, and the deregulation of the airlines, banking, trucking and railroad industries. • Energy and Environmental Reform – Fuel shortages and sky-rocketing oil prices – stagflation. – Carter proposed comprehensive program to conserve energy and established the Department of Energy. – National Energy Act of 1978 penalized gas-guzzling cars - incentives for conservation and alternative fuels - fell far short of a comprehensive program. – In 1979 the Iranian revolution created the most severe energy crisis yet - additional measures to reduce controls on oil and gas to stimulate American production and to impose a windfall profits tax to redistribute profits that would accrue with deregulation. – Carters measures failed to reduce American dependence on foreign oil. – Nuclear energy - possible alternative to fossil fuels - opposition from environmental movement – human costs of unregulated development. – Carter administration sponsored creation of the Superfund of $1.6 billion to clean up hazardous wastes left by chemical industry. – Carter’s environmental legislation included clean air and water programs, the expansion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and controls on strip mining. • Promoting Human Rights Abroad – Carter charged predecessors’ foreign policy violated nation’s principles of freedom and human dignity. – Human rights, cornerstone of Carter’s approach to reversing policies of his predecessors – but glaring inconsistencies in Carter’s human rights policy. – Nicaragua - Carter recognized leftist Sandinista government that overthrew an oppressive dictatorship but had ties to Cuba - a government’s treatment of its citizens was as important as how friendly to American interests it was. – Applying moral principles to relations with Panama, Carter sped up negotiations over control of the Panama Canal—the most conspicuous symbol of U.S. power. – In the Middle East, Carter seized on courage of Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat - first Arab willing to talk directly with Israeli officials - Sadat and Israeli’s prime minister Menachem Begin – Initially faltered - Carter invited them to Camp David, Maryland, and spent thirteen days there mediating between the two and securing the Camp David accords, signed at the White House in March 1979. – Egypt - first Arab state to recognize Israel, and Israel agreed to gradual withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula, territory that it had seized in the 1967 war. • The Cold War Intensifies – Pursue national security through nonmilitary means - accommodation with Soviet Union – but turned back toward military means. – Military buildup in 1979 when Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan whose Communist government threatened by Muslim opposition. – Soviet actions greatest threat to peace since World War II and jeopardized oil supplies from Middle East; announced ―Carter Doctrine,‖ use of any means necessary to prevent outside force from gaining control of the Persian Gulf. – In 1979, revolution in Iran forced U.S.-backed shah out - gave Shiite Islamic fundamentalists control of government. – Carter permitted shah to enter U. S. for medical treatment, anti-American demonstrators fearing U.S. attempt to bring shah back into power escalated protests in Teheran. – November 4, 1979 – 60 Americans from U.S. Embassy seized demanding shah be returned to Iran for trial. – Carter sent small military operation into Iran in April 1980 - rescue mission failed and hostages remained prisoners until January 1981. – Disastrous rescue mission increased support for a more militaristic foreign policy. Ronald Reagan and Conservative Ascendancy • Appealing to the New Right and Beyond – Actor Ronald Reagan’s political career began with governor of California in 1966. – Centrist Republicans unhappy with right wing Reagan’s nomination. – Economic recession, declining international stature, Americans hostages in Iran, helped Reagan’s victory - also benefited from grassroots conservatism. – Support from religious conservatives - new phenomenon in politics known - the New Right or New Christian Right. – Conservatives created political organizations, such as Moral Majority, founded by minister Jerry Falwell in 1979 with the goals of fighting ―left-wing, social welfare bills [. . .] pornography, homosexuality, the advocacy of immorality in school textbooks.‖ – Agreement on abortion, school prayer, and other New Right issues. – Major achievements - reducing taxes, and government restraints on free enterprise. – Reagan’s admirers beyond conservatives – popular, liked by those who opposed his policies, despite glaring mistakes. • Unleashing Free Enterprise – Reagan’s first domestic objective was a massive tax cut. – Tax reduction in the face of a large budget deficit, contradicted traditional Republican economic doctrine - new theory called supply-side economics - cutting taxes would increase revenue. – In 1981, Congress passed Economic Recovery Tax Act - largest tax reduction in U.S. history, cutting personal tax rates on lowest incomes from 14 to 11 percent and on highest incomes from 70 to 50 percent. – Affluent Americans saved far more on their tax bills than average taxpayer, distribution of wealth further skewed in favor of the rich. – Tried to free private enterprise from government restraints, pursuing across-the-board deregulation. – Loosened laws protecting employee health and safety and weakened labor unions. – Blamed environmental laws for sluggish economy and targeted them for deregulation - popular support for environmental protection blocked full realization of his goals. – Deregulation of banking industry - crisis in savings and loan industry deepened federal budget deficit which grew during the 1980s. – Cut funds for food stamps, job training, aid to low income students, health services, and other welfare programs - hundreds of thousands of people lost benefits. – Economic upswing in 1983 and Reagan’s popularity posed a formidable challenge for Democrats – in 1984 election Reagan won a landslide 59 percent of the vote. • Winners and Losers in a Flourishing Economy – After 1983 some Americans won great fortunes - popular culture celebrated making money and displaying wealth - baby boom generation known popularly as ―yuppies.‖ – New wealthy - moving assets rather than producing goods; notable exceptions Steven Jobs and Bill Gates. – Many problems remained, even in an economy of abundance. – International competition forced collapse of some older American companies, others moved factories and jobs abroad closer to foreign markets or benefit from low wage standards in Mexico and South Korea. – Weakening of organized labor and decline in manufacturing to eroded position of blue-collar workers. – Expansion of service industries created new jobs that paid substantially lower wages and number of full-time workers earning wages below poverty line increased from 12 to 18 percent in the 1980s. – Families needed a second income to prevent economic decline - by 1990, 60 percent of married women with young children worked outside the home – female heads of households became poor. – Reagan avoided government efforts to reverse this growing income inequality (which his tax policies encouraged), insisting that a booming economy would benefit everyone. – In reality reversal of trend – homelessness increased. Continuing Struggles over Rights • Battles in the Courts and Congress – Reagan agreed with conservatives that nation had moved too far in guaranteeing rights to minority groups. – Intense mobilization by civil rights groups, educational leaders, and corporate world prevented abandoning of affirmative action. – Supreme Court upheld important antidiscrimination policies and Congress extended the Voting Rights Act with veto-proof majorities. – Limited civil rights enforcement - appointed conservatives to Justice Department and Civil Rights Commission, slashed budgets. – Efforts to weaken Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 prompted Congress to pass Civil Rights Restoration Act - banned organizations that practiced discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age, from receiving government funds. – Opportunity to appoint half of the 761 federal court judges and three new Supreme Court justices - President Reagan selected conservatives. – Judicial tide turned in favor of doctrine of strict construction. – Supreme Court upheld important affirmative action and antidiscrimination policies and ruled that sexual harassment in the workplace constituted sex discrimination. – Reagan’s Supreme Court appointees tipped balance to the right - imposed restrictions that weakened access to abortion, reduced protections against employment discrimination, and weakened legal safeguards against the death penalty. • Feminism on the Defensive – A signal achievement of the New Right was Republican Party’s position on women’s rights - anti feminist tone, opposing both the Equal Rights Amendment, which failed ratification in 1982, and a woman’s right to abortion, key goals of women’s rights activists. – Feminists’ focus on women’s economic and family problems - Child Support Enforcement Amendments and Retirement Equity Act of 1984. – Concerned about gender gap—women’s tendency throughout the 1980s to vote for liberal and Democratic candidates in larger numbers than men did. – Court decisions placed restrictions on women’s ability to obtain abortions but feminists successfully fought to retain the basic principles of Roe v. Wade. • The Gay and Lesbian Rights Movement – Gay and lesbian rights activism grew during the 1980s - partly due to AIDS epidemic. – Thousands of closeted homosexuals experienced relief of ―coming out‖ - increased awareness of homosexuality. – Greater tolerance - dozens of cities banned job discrimination against homosexuals and 11 states made sexual orientation a protected category under civil rights laws. – Christian Right targeted gays and lesbians as symbols of immorality and overturned some gay rights measures; in 1986 Supreme Court upheld constitutionality of laws that criminalized sodomy, laws later reversed in 2003. Ronald Reagan Confronts an “Evil Empire” • Militarization and Interventions Abroad – Expanded military - new bombers and missiles, enhanced nuclear force in Europe, larger navy, and rapid-deployment force. – Justified military buildup as a means to negotiate with Soviets, Reagan provoked outburst of pleas to halt the arms race. – In March 1983 announced plans for research on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), critics called it ―Star Wars‖ doubted feasibility of project that proposed to deploy lasers in space to destroy enemy missiles before they reached their targets. – Military buildup could not extinguish violence initiated by non- state organizations designed to gain political objectives by frightening civilian populations. – Such terrorism escalated in the Middle East in the 1970s and 1980s as Palestinians resisted Israeli occupation by the West Bank, destabilizing Lebanon. – In 1983, U. S. invaded Grenada, aided Afghan rebels’ war against Afghanistan’s Soviet-backed government, armed rebel forces against Angola’s Soviet-supported government, and sided with South Africa’s brutal suppression of black anti- apartheid protesters. – Most fearful of left-wing movements in Central America that threatened to ―destabilize the entire region from the Panama Canal to Mexico.‖ – In El Salvador the United States sent money and military advisers to prop up an authoritarian government despite the fact that it had committed murderous human rights violations. • In Nicaragua, Reagan aimed to unseat left-leaning Sandinistas - aided the Contras, an armed coalition that included many individuals from overthrown Somoza dictatorship. • The Iran-Contra Scandal – Fearing another Vietnam, Americans opposed aligning U.S. with reactionary forces in Nicaragua not supported by majority of the people. – Congress instructed president to stop aid to Contras, but Reagan’s administration continued to secretly provide Contras with weapons and training, sustaining them, ruining the Nicaraguan economy, and undermining support for Sandinista government. – Iran-Contra scandal – U. S efforts to sell arms to Iran (in exchange for which the Iranians would pressure Muslim terrorists to release seven American hostages in Lebanon) funneling proceeds from arms sales through Swiss bank accounts to the Contras in Nicaragua. – News surfaced in November 1986 - Reagan administration faced serious charges of bargaining with terrorists and defying Congress’s express ban on military aid to Contras. – Independent prosecutor found no evidence Reagan had broken the law – but concluded Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush had known about diversion of funds to Contras and ―had knowingly participated or at least acquiesced‖ in covering up scandal - most serious case of executive branch misconduct since Watergate. • A Thaw in Soviet-American Relations – Momentous thaw in cold war overshadowed Iran-Contra scandal - concerns about immense defense budgets moved both Reagan and Gorbachev towards negotiations. – Met four times between 1985 and 1988 - intermediate-range nuclear forces (INF) agreement, eliminating all short- and medium-range missiles from Europe and providing for on-site inspections for the first time. – In 1988, Gorbachev further reduced tensions by announcing a gradual withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan.